Days after Caris LeVert suffered his season-ending foot injury fighting for a rebound against Northwestern, the junior guard received a text message from Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan asking about his future plans.
“I’m coming back,” LeVert replied. “I feel like I have to come back.”
And, although he changed his mind several times during the upcoming months, LeVert eventually stayed true to his initial response, announcing Tuesday that he’ll return for his senior season with the Wolverines.
“I went back and forth over the past couple of months a lot, and I told [teammates] about it,” he said. “They were with me every step of the way; they were really supportive.
“But at the end of the day, my heart was here at Michigan.”
“But at the end of the day, my heart was here at Michigan.” twitter
LeVert told John Beilein of his choice on Monday, and the coach gave his player a hug before asking him to call Mrs. Beilein with the news as well.
“The NBA is a lifetime dream of mine, a lifetime dream of a lot of young basketball players. Just playing against the best players in the world,” LeVert said. “And then, coming back — college is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You get a chance to play alongside your brothers every day. I have a year left, and I think, if I would’ve left, I might have looked back and regretted that decision.”
LeVert was among the first to receive an evaluation from the NBA Draft Advisory Board but chose to resubmit his name for a better estimation of his draft stock. Though LeVert didn’t discuss specifics about the committee’s results, he reiterated Tuesday that he didn’t feel it would have been beneficial to leave Michigan if he were to be drafted in the second round.
“It was a little part of it, but it wasn’t everything,” the guard said.
Most draft predictions have dropped LeVert significantly since tabbing him as a surefire first-rounder earlier this season. Part of that fall may be due to injury concerns; the junior has had surgery to repair stress fractures in his left foot twice since summer of 2014.
He said Tuesday that he’s still on track to make a full recovery from the latest operation and expects to return to the court in a couple of weeks. LeVert, who added he didn’t consider injury risk while making his decision, may also purchase an insurance policy to protect from financial damages should he get hurt again.
“I feel like I’m really young for my class, so coming back wouldn’t hurt me in that aspect of age,” he said. “Everything else is just to be left on the court. As well as I play, I think I can move myself up [draft expectations] as far as I can.”
During the summer, which LeVert will spend working with strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson, the guard hopes to improve his lower-body strength and become a better jump shooter.
He’ll join a deep team featuring a healthy Derrick Walton in the backcourt, Zak Irvin on a wing and a slew of other promising forwards vying for frontcourt time. Their goal, LeVert said, is to win the Big Ten title.
“I think we have a lot of potential coming back, but potential is a dangerous word,” he said. “Going after those goals and going after those expectations will be a challenge.”
The Wolverines took a major step toward accomplishing that with their star guard and co-captain at the helm. While LeVert may have taken his time figuring out his future, the junior expressed his contentment with the decision.
“I’m coming back to win games, to get my degree and be happy,” LeVert said.